The Padres wrapped up the first half of the season on Sunday, falling to the Reds, 4-2, before a crowd of 24,032 at Petco Park before collectively scattering for a four-day respite from the regular season, which resumes with a three-game series at Dodger Stadium on Friday.
In a sense, the first half couldn't end quick enough for the Padres, a team ravaged by injuries frequently this season. But on the other hand, the Padres might just as soon keep playing, considering they posted a 15-13 record over the final 28 games of the first half.
"I like the way that we've played better overall baseball," said Padres manager Bud Black. "We have still got a ways to go but we've seen some good indicators."
One of which, Baker said, is resiliency. On Saturday, the Padres trailed 6-3 before putting together some quality at-bats late in the game to pull within one run at 6-5 before losing. On Sunday, they fell behind 3-0 before eventually making it a 4-2 game.
"They would score and then we would score," Baker said. "With these guys, it doesn't matter if we're trailing in the seventh inning. That's something you didn't see in the first half of the season."
Two home runs by the Reds on Sunday, though, proved to be too much to overcome.
San Diego pitcher Jason Marquis (1-5), starting on three days' rest, opened the game with three shutout innings. He put runners on the corners with one out in the third inning but escaped further trouble as he struck out Drew Stubbs and Joey Votto on sliders to end the inning.
Marquis wasn't nearly as fortunate in the fourth inning, though. He allowed a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips -- the first of three hits for the Reds' second baseman -- and then served up a two-run homer to Jay Bruce, who hit the ball beyond the wall in center field.
Former Padres outfielder Ryan Ludwick followed with a home run of his own, a shot to left field, to give the Reds (47-38) lead.
"I felt like I was executing the way I wanted to, getting quick outs," Marquis said. "I fell behind to Bruce, put them in hitter's counts, and when that's the case you have to make pretty quality pitches, but sometimes you get those up, they capitalize on mistakes like they did today, get it up in the air, and drive it out of the ballpark. For the most part I felt pretty good, happy with the way I threw the ball."
Marquis would pitch into the sixth inning, failing to get an out before he was replaced by Brad Brach. All told, Marquis allowed three runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
The Padres stayed within striking distance, thanks in part to a leaping catch at the wall in left-center field by Cameron Maybin to end the fifth inning, when Maybin robbed Votto of what certainly would have been an extra-base hit.
"That's one of the best I've seen in a long time. That was a very, very athletic catch and athletic move. He didn't break stride. Great timing, you could tell he's played more than baseball," said Reds manager Dusty Baker.
The Padres (34-53) scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Maybin doubled to start the fifth inning and later scored on a ground ball by Chris Denorfia. In the sixth inning, the Padres had the bases loaded when pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay walked to score a run.
But Denorfia, also facing a bases-loaded situation, flew out to end the inning.
Cincinnati pitcher Johnny Cueto improved to 10-5, though he allowed two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings. Three relievers combined to get the final 10 outs of the game, with Aroldis Chapman getting the last three outs for his 11th save of the season.
Despite the loss, Baker sees more good days ahead in the second half than the Padres had in the first half of the season.
"It's sort of a mix of the old and new ... you've got some young players here doing well and some older pitchers like Jason Marquis and Kip Wells who have given us a lift," Baker said. "A lot of the young guys are getting comfortable at the plate and being here is a great learning experience for them.
"I think it's fantastic for the team moving forward."